Cabinet's meeting started this evening at the government palace. It was not held as planned at the presidential palace in Baabda due to President Elias Al-Hrawi's bad health conditions. Before entering the meeting, ministers told reporters at the palace, cabinet is expected to discuss a possible withdrawal of the pay-scales draft law from parliament for a period of five weeks for further study and discussions. Sources expected ministers to discuss Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri's consolation efforts. The meeting might also tackle recent Israeli proposals regarding UN Resolution 425 which calls for Israel's unconditional withdrawal from South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa.
At the presidential palace in Baabda, President Elias Al-Hrawi this morning held a one-hour meeting with Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. The premier did not wish to respond to reporters' questions after the talks. But sources at the palace said talks centered on the outcome of the premier's consultation bid with Lebanese officials up to now. The sources added the two leaders also discussed recent Israeli proposals concerning UN Resolution 425.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today continued his consultations aimed at discussing current socio-economic, political, and developmental issues with Lebanese officials. This morning, the premier met a delegation from the Association of Lebanese banks. The head of the delegation Farid Roufayel later told reporters at the government palace Lebanese bankers support the government's financial and economic policies. He also stressed the necessity of maintaining the planned 37% budget deficit. Roufayel added the government's economic policy will ensure financial stability and the maintenance of the Lebanese Lira's strength. The premier later held talks with a delegation representing Lebanese businessmen and officials in the country's different economic sectors in the presence of Industry Minister Nadim Salem.
At government palace, the Lebanese premier discussed with the French ambassador to Lebanon Daniel Jouanneau situation in South Lebanon and recent developments in Iraq in light of the deal lately signed between UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz in Baghdad. Responding to a reporter's question, Jouanneau stressed his discussions with the Lebanese premier did not tackle the UN Security Council's Resolution 425 in light of recent Israeli proposals in this regard. He added France's stance concerning Resolution 425 is fixed and clear. Hariri later held talks with the British ambassador to Lebanon David MacLenin. Discussions centered on regional preparations for the expected visit of British Foreign Minister Robin Cook. They also held talks on the general situation in South Lebanon and the Arab world.
The Arab League today refused recent Israeli proposals for a conditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from South Lebanon. The League's assistant secretary general of political affairs, Zakariyyah Ismail said the League refuses Israeli conditions for security arrangements adding the Israeli proposals in this regard only aim at reducing the amount of Israeli losses in South Lebanon. Ismail also said Israel wants to present the International Community with only a semblance of a withdrawal intention.
The League's Secretary general for Arab Affairs Ahmad Bin Hely said the Israeli proposal violates the nature of Resolution 425 which calls for Israel to unconditionally withdraw from Lebanon.
Sources at the Lebanese Foreign Ministry today announced Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Sharaa will arrive in Beirut tomorrow. The sources added during his visit, Sharaa is expected to hold talks with his Lebanese counterpart Faris Boueiz among other high ranking Lebanese officials. Discussions are expected to center on regional developments and recent Israeli moves concerning UN Resolution 425.
The Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction today signed an agreement of understanding with the Saudi Fund for Development. The head of the CDR Nabil Al-Jiser signed the accord with the Saudi Fund's Director General Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Souqair in the presence of the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon Abdullah Al-Kouhaymeh. Under the terms of the agreement, the Saudi Fund provides a sum of 100 million US dollars to be spent on development projects in the country. A loan agreement of six million Saudi Riyals was also reached between the two sides. After the signing, Al-Souqair reiterated his countrys willingness to participate in the development of Lebanon's different economic sectors. He added the 100 million US dollars will be used to finance development projects in different areas of the country.
The International Campaign for the Protection of Archeological Sites in the southern port city of Tyre was launched today by UNESCO's Director General Frederico Mayor in the presence of House Speaker Nabih Berri, Culture Minister Fawzi Hobeish, Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa in addition to other minister, deputies and religious figures. Mayor stressed the necessity of continuing efforts for the preservation of culture and civilization. Mayor also announced UNESCO will provide the city of Tyre with necessary funding for development projects in the city.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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